The Himalayans began their partnership towards the end of 1990 in a dark and overly damp rehearsal studio located under the streets of San Francisco. Although things weren't so great underneath the city, above ground was a thriving music scene full of new and talented bands playing in any one of the many local venues.
Guitarist Dan Jewett and drummer Chris Roldan started the band from the ashes of numerous failed bands in an attempt to add a new sound to this developing music scene that included everything from Primus to Green Day.
Keeping the name Himalayans (about the only part of their musical past worth salvaging), Dan and Chris began working out a smooth modern style using only guitar and drums. From these early sessions came the beginnings of songs such as "River Shannon," "Floating Over You," "A Little Discipline" and "Ordinary Superman." Chris' almost lyrical drum parts were totally unique and perfectly suited to the compressed and chorused guitar sound coming from Dan's Stratocaster and Roland Jazz Chorus 120 amplifier..
The full melodic possibilities of this new sound were not fully realized until the band added its third Himalayan, Dave Janusko on his Musicman bass guitar. Dave used a very minimal approach to playing the bass combined with a complex feel for melody and texture. Dave added to the sound by utilizing a pick to create a staccato background bass line that would follow the root of Dan's chord and then suddenly break away to create an unexpected harmony as well as a sense of movement from one part to another. It was the genius of simplicity and it added a new dimension and depth to the songs.
With the realization that the songwriting talents of Dan and Dave were even more powerful when combined, the Himalayans began looking for a singer and lyricist to complete the band and put a face on the new music. A somewhat silly advertisement in a local music magazine soon caught the attention of a singer from Berkeley named Adam Duritz and a tryout was arranged.
Sometimes it takes a while for a new band or new members to learn to play together, but not in this case. Adam stepped in and immediately started singing amazing melodies as the Himalayans ripped through their batch of recently completed songs. Very few changes in song structure were required as it sounded as if Adam had been singing these songs his whole life; the music and melodies went together as if they had never existed without each other.
Now this alone would be amazing enough, but it was only half the story. The other half was revealed later when the band listened back to the rehearsal tape and heard the lyrics. From the very beginning, the lyrics were deep, insightful, clever, cool and unforgettable. The words were the perfect compliment to the sound the Himalayans were making. Needless to say, Adam got the job as the Himalayans singer and lyricist.
The Himalayans began playing live with an emphasis on sound quality. In order to make sure nobody missed how great the music was, the band often spent as much or more than they made at each show on a personal sound engineer. This, coupled with the bands dynamic control, insured that audiences could hear the lyrics in the loudest room or the quietest. The band also used lots of compression and pre-processing on the guitars to try and duplicate the sound live that you would get if you listened to a recording.
This was all very effective and audiences fell in love with the band resulting in large and enthusiastic crowds from the very beginning. Word spread, excitement grew, and the band quickly rose to the top of the Bay Area scene. In the middle of 1991, the Himalayans recorded a three song demo produced by future Counting Crows guitarist David Bryson and featuring the songs "Round Here," "Diamonds and Babies and Cars," and "She Likes the Weather."
After about a year, the Himalayans decided to make one more upgrade melodically and add the depth that a second guitar can bring. This was accomplished by moving Dave to his more natural instrument, the guitar, and bringing in a new bass player.
Luckily for the Himalayans, Adam's childhood friend, former band mate and Himalayans fan Marty Jones (the Mr. Jones of the song of the same name) was eager to take the job. Marty's technical ability is second only to his melodic sense and he immediately added yet another dimension to the band. Marty had the unique ability to write bass lines that served the music but also accented the vocals in key spots. With Marty on board, the Himalayans' songwriting evolved with the addition of songs such as "Sailor Song" and "Nothing but a Child."
As word spread about the band so did interest from record companies. Towards the end of 1991 an executive from one of these companies received two demos. One was the Himalayans demo tape and the other was a tape of David Bryson and Adam Duritz playing a collection of songs in a stripped down acoustic format under the name Counting Crows.
The powers that be decided to go with the sound that was the Counting Crows but insisted that the Himalayans song "Round Here" be included. "Round Here" became the second single on the Counting Crows first album and is still a set centerpiece.
In an effort to make a record of the music they made the Himalayans did a quick one day session in late 1991 where they performed their whole set, live to DAT. That recording is the only surviving record of the Himalayans music aside from their three song demo. These two recordings, along with excerpts from on-air radio interviews, are featured on "She Likes the Weather."